Ideally, Texas head coach Karen Aston said, the Longhorns would have returned to competition much sooner than 10 days after their best win of the season at Tennessee.
Instead, the Longhorns had a long break during final exams, and they were not particularly sharp on Wednesday night. Texas committed a season-high 24 turnovers while defeating Ohio University 73-60 at the Erwin Center.
Turnovers have been an issue during Aston’s eight-season tenure; the Longhorns (6-4) have not ranked higher than 97th nationally in that category. And yet, Texas committed only eight in the 66-60 win at then-No. 17 Tennessee on Dec. 8. The Longhorns appeared to make progress that day.
So time off apparently was not good for them, at least regarding basketball.
“They did get through finals, and that’s the most important thing,” Aston said. “We had some stretches when we were pretty good, and then some stretches when we were sloppy and not focused on attention to detail.”
Celeste Taylor was pretty focused. The freshman guard produced a season-best 17 points along with nine rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals.
She’s the newest of four McDonald’s All-Americans in the starting lineup. Taylor, from Valley Stream, N.Y, committed to Texas early in her junior season at Long Island Lutheran High School.
“It’s really obvious when you see her play that she fits our style,” Aston said. “Just the kind of player a lot of people wanna play with because she plays hard and tries to pay attention to the details of the game in practice, and that carries over to the game.”
Taylor elected to attend school a long way from home.
“I miss my family, but I have family here now,” Taylor said. “Pretty cool.”
Senior Joyner Holmes came through with her eighth double double of the season — 16 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 forward converted 7 of 11 field goal attempts, but she also committed seven turnovers.
Charli Coller, a 6-5 sophomore, had her seventh double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Joanne Allen-Taylor provided a boost off the bench with 10 points.
Texas outrebounded Ohio — which has no starter taller than 5-11 — 52-25.
Ohio (6-4) is an aggressive team that upset Ohio State in mid-November. Cece Hooks led the Bobcats with 21 points. Already Ohio’s career leader in steals early in her junior season, Hooks had seven of them Wednesday night.
The Longhorns can’t afford that inattentiveness when they face No. 1 Stanford on Sunday at the Erwin Center.
“I hope we can get this one under our belt, get back in game mode a little bit and clean it up,” Aston said. “Obviously, we have to clean it up before Sunday. I don’t think we can turn the ball over 20-something times.”